Friday, September 7, 2012

two thoughts on politics


The political meme 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' is such a superficial and thoughtless standard by which to make voting decisions.

How about 'Is the country better off?' Or a Rawls-inspired 'Is the least well off among you better off?'

But even a restructuring of the question frames an election as a superficial economic (and perhaps security) decision. So shallow. Or is that as deep as us proletariat can go?


I hate political lawn signs and bumper stickers (even though we have both, but that's Valerie) because, really, I have to live with my neighbors and want to get along and need to be able to effectively resolve disputes about pooping dogs and stray balls, and frankly I don't want to know who they're voting for because I don't want to think less of them.


On the other hand, I believe (I hope not in a naively optimistic way, but if it is, so be it) that it's SO important that we have passionate political conversations in the communities in which we mingle!

We should know what our neighbors are thinking because they may have really good thoughts. (Or if not good, at least thoughts.) And their thoughts may help us think better. But we won't know those thoughts without inviting them.

We should be able to do all this civilly, arguing rationally and persuasively AND be able to disagree without picking up pitchforks, but of course we won't, always...but if we don't practice that sort of discussion we certainly won't learn how to do it. And of course sometimes it will go badly, because that's the nature of practice. But it's hard to imagine limiting conversation is going to make a better world than we'd have by facilitating conversation. So I think we still have to talk, exactly because we won't always agree, even if the process is sometimes painful...